Bad Plants Planted by Good People - Maryland's Wild Acres
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Creating a Wild Backyard - Bad Plants Planted by Good People

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When you go to the nursery, you might have the best intentions of redesigning your landscape to attract wildlife. However, not all plants sold in nurseries and at stores are good for wildlife and the environment. When selecting plants for backyard wildlife habitat, native species are generally the best choices. Unfortunately, native species are not always readily available at most commercial nurseries. So, your best plan of action is to go to the store armed with knowledge to avoid purchasing problem plants. To begin, let’s define what is considered to be native, non-native and invasive.

  • Native: species which naturally occur in a region (like Maryland)
  • Non-Native: species which do not naturally occur in a region
  • Invasive: non-native species that cause environmental, economic or health-related problems

Invasive species are problematic, and their introductions into natural systems can be intentional or unintentional. Invasive species can be animals, plants, fungi and even microbes. Billions of dollars are spent each year in the United States to control invasive species. It has been estimated that $45 million per year is spent on control of the invasive Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) on federal lands. That’s a lot of cash!

Abandoned house being engulfed by Japanese knotweed in Savage, MD, photo by Kerry Wixted 

One way you can help with the battle against invasive plants is to not plant them in your yard. The following list contains species currently sold at nurseries that should be avoided. It should be noted that not all non-native plants are invasive, and there are plenty of non-native plants which can be used to enhance your backyard wildlife habitat. Check out pages found on the Wild Acres site here for more information on desirable species for wildlife.

Some of Maryland’s Problem Plants


Habit

Common Name

Scientific Name

Aquatic

Eurasian watermilfoil

Myriophyllum spicatum

Aquatic

Flowering rush

Butomus umbellatus

Aquatic

Parrot feather

Myriophyllum aquaticum

Aquatic

Water chestnut

Trapa natans

Aquatic

Water hyacinth

Eichhornia crassipes

Forbs

Carpet bugleweed, Bugleweed, Ajuga

Ajuga reptans

Forbs

Japanese knotweed

Polygonum cuspidatum

Forbs

Japanese pachysandra, Pachysandra

Pachysandra terminalis

Forbs

Loosestrife, Creeping Jenny, Moneywort

Lysimachia nummularia

Forbs

Orange daylily

Hemerocallis fulva

Forbs

Perilla, Beefsteak plant

Perilla frutescens

Forbs

Yellow flag iris

Iris pseudacorus

Grass

Cogongrass

Imperata cylindrica

Grass

Common reed

Phragmites australis

Grass

Japanese silver grass

Miscanthus sinensis

Grass

Johnson grass

Sorghum halepense

Grass

Pampas grass

Cortaderia selloana

Shrub

Butterfly bush

Buddleia davidii

Shrub

Chinese privet

Ligustrum sinense

Shrub

Heavenly bamboo

Nandina domestica

Shrub

Japanese barberry

Berberis thunbergii

Shrub

Japanese holly

Ilex crenata

Shrub

Japanese spiraea

Spiraea japonica

Shrub

Leatherleaf mahonia

Mahonia bealei

Shrub

Scotch broom

Cytisus scoparius

Shrub

Wineberry

Rubus phoenicolasius

Shrub

Winged euonymus

Euonymus alatus

Tree

Amur corktree, Phellodendron

Phellodendron amurense

Tree

Bradford pear

Pyrus calleryana

Tree

Chinese tallow

Triadica sebifera

Tree

Goldenrain tree

Koelreuteria paniculata

Tree

Norway maple

Acer platanoides

Tree

Sawtooth oak

Quercus acutissima

Vine

Chinese wisteria

Wisteria sinensis

Vine

Chinese yam

Dioscorea oppositifolia

Vine

English ivy

Hedera helix

Vine

Japanese wisteria

Wisteria floribunda

Vine

Periwinkle

Vinca minor

Vine

Vinca vine

Vinca major

Vine

Winter creeper

Euonymus fortunei


It should be noted that this is not an exhaustive list, but these are some of the more commonly planted problem plants. When in doubt, research the plant you are interested in to see if it is invasive. The Maryland Invasive Species Council (MISC) also has good information on invasive species in Maryland as well as well as the National Invasive Species Council.


For Additional Information, Contact:

Kerry Wixted
Wildlife and Heritage Service
580 Taylor Ave, E-1
Annapolis, MD 21401
kerry.wixted@maryland.gov
Phone: 410-260-8566
Fax: 410-260-8596


Acknowledgements:

  • Purple Loosestrife Flowers, courtesy of Linda Wilson, University of Idaho
  • All other photographs by Kerry Wixted
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